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April 27, 2013

Pentecostal minister hopes to join race for mayor in Lawrence

LAWRENCE — A Pentecostal minister who led a failed effort to recall Mayor William Lantigua in 2011 said yesterday he will approach the task in a different way this year: by running for the job himself.

“Awful, awful, awful,” Rev. Edwin Rodriguez said about the job Lantigua has done. “That’s why I made the effort for the recall. Crime is up. We are 94th in the nation with crime. We are the poorest city in the state of Massachusetts. I would like to end that.”

Rodriguez, 60, is the sixth person to pick up nominating petitions since they became available April 3. To become a candidate in the primary he must return the papers with 250 signatures of registered city voters by Aug. 6. Besides Lantigua, the potential field also includes City Councilor Daniel Rivera, state Rep. Marcos Devers, inventor James Patrick O’Donaghue and accountant Nester DeJesus.

The preliminary election is Sept. 17. The general election is Nov. 7.

Rodriguez was the founder and president of “It’s Your Right,” which led the effort to recall Lantigua two years ago. The effort failed when City Clerk William Maloney invalidated more than 1,100 of the 5,500 signatures the group collected, leaving the recall 900 signatures short of what was needed to make it to the ballot.

Rodriguez volunteered in a second recall effort later in 2011, but did not direct it. That effort also fell short.

Last year, Rodriguez ran for one of the three at-large seats on the City Council, coming in fifth in a field of six. He received 2,091 votes.

He spent just $919 on the council race, all of it his own money. His campaign organization had nothing in the bank on Dec. 31, 2012, his campaign finance report shows. He said yesterday he expects to raise $50,000 in the campaign for mayor, about half of what other candidates say they will spend.

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